Valdo Peixoto’s Technique

Recently I wrote an article on Valdo Peixoto’s work that uses Snap Art. Valdo was kind enough to explain how he creates these beautiful results. I’ll put his comments in quotation marks.

Much of the important work happens before Snap Art is involved. These next comments refer to the Summer Babies image below.

summer babies

“Most of the time goes into creating the photo composition itself. Practically all elements are put in individually, from water (3 layers just for it, excluding the splashes) to the babies (more than a layer each), and sails and ropes. I’m not trying to discourage you by saying its too complicated to get there, and in fact some of my compositions are far simpler. But it can get very layered. It often does.”

Below is an image at different stages in the process. You can see that Valdo added touches like light rays before the Snap Art stage.

“You can see in some of the examples that the images don’t look like anything special without the oil paint process because they were made with it in mind. That said, some of the elements I add to my images that always look great once the steps are applied are: highlights to the character’s sillouettes, rays of light slicing through the composition, bokehs, color palettes that imitate paintings, etc. I’m also a photographer so most elements are drawn from my library of images, so a rich catalog to take elements from is also advisable.”

Now we finally get to Valdo’s technique for applying brush strokes and canvas texture using Snap Art. Applying Snap Art directly can look good, but to retain detail you have to use small brush strokes. Instead, Valdo uses very large brush strokes and then combines the results with the original photo to retain detail.

“I apply the Oil Paint filter with the option of rendering the result in a different layer. Usually the values I enter for my renderings are around 45 brush size, 20 photorealism, 100 for thickness, 90 on stroke length, but you can try different values and see what comes out. So now we got 2 layers, the original image below and the applied oil filter on top.”

“What we do next is duplicate the original un-Snap-Arted layer. Then we change the layer blend of the oil paint layer from Normal to Difference and lower the transparency to around 90%. It should look something like (3). This 90% rule is the same as the settings above for the Oil Paint filter. It’s not written in stone, sometimes I use less transparency, others more, feel free to try and see what you get.”

“Now merge the paint layer with the background copy layer. On the new merged layer apply auto levels (Image->Auto Tone) and desaturate (Image->Adjustments->Desaturate). The new result should look like (4).”

“Now change layer blend to Overlay. Then go to Image->Adjustments->Curves. What I do in this stage is to try and make the texture come out by fiddling with the curve, but usually I end up with a curve that resembles (5).”

“Press ok and that’s it. As far as standard procedure with rigid steps this is as far as it goes. From there onwards the process is variable, cause my method of work is more based on tryouts and intuition rather than a fixed recipe. Some of those other steps that come frequently are adjusting the upper layer’s sharpness, or overlaying textures from my library into the image to give it a more hand drawn and organic feel but the foundations of the style are laid bare here in these steps.”

Scroll back to the top of the article to see the finished result. To see more of Valdo Peixoto’s work, visit Flickr or his photography web site.

Thanks for the advice, Valdo!

About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Bill April 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

    This does not look like it will work at all, until it does. And it’s pretty cool. I tried it with a very detailed image and wound up with something that looked more like a painting in mixed media (pencil, pastels and oil perhaps). A technique well worth knowing and one I was not likely to stumble upon myself.

    • Valdo Peixoto September 14, 2012 at 5:30 am

      Hi Bill

      Let me have a look on some of your stuff, I’m curious to see how it looks when other artists try my recipe



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